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Animalz

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Animalz

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Employee Review

  1. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 3 years

    More churn than all the dairy farms in Wisconsin

    Sep 16, 2021 - Content Marketing Manager 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    If you’re capable, driven, and have strong psychological stamina, you really can pretty much own end-to-end content production for some decent clients, maybe even a unicorn if you’re very lucky. “Ownership” is prized highly at Animalz, so if you’re happy taking the lead on a project from start to finish with minimal support––and I do mean minimal support––you’ll soon be able to translate that experience into a better gig at a much better company. For at least a little while longer, you can probably leverage Animalz’s formerly strong reputation into better career opportunities after you leave, though that window is closing rapidly. Same goes for your coworkers––I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the smartest, most talented people I’ve ever worked with in my career, though virtually all of them have left or been forced out by now.

    Cons

    Take a look at the other reviews on this page. See the ones that were obviously written under duress by junior hires, or maybe members of senior management themselves? The ones that all just happened to be published on August 11 because leadership panicked and didn’t even think to publish them over the course of a few weeks to make them seem more credible? The reviews even a child could spot as obvious fakes? That’s how stupid Animalz’s leadership thinks you are. They’re convinced you’re either too dumb or too desperate to see through their obvious lies, and make no mistake, they will lie to you––and keep lying to you––from your first day until the day you finally tire of it and quit. Animalz really could have been the very best content marketing agency in the world. They had a truly world-class team and a reputation to match. But instead of investing in that talent and building on that brand equity, they squandered it all in the name of wildly unsustainable growth for no other reason than to satisfy the founder’s greed. Everything that made this agency great has been sacrificed in the name of myopic, short-term growth, and even that has been jeopardized by senior leadership’s inability to admit they’re completely out of their depth. As other reviews have noted, churn is the only game in town at Animalz. It’s a constant race to the bottom between employee churn and client churn. Since April 2021, Animalz has steadily lost the majority of its most experienced, tenured people because the concept of retention is utterly alien to management. Burnout is endemic, and the company simply couldn’t care less. The CEO will try to tell you that the chronic staff turnover is the result of the pandemic, or “The Great Resignation,” or because “people just don’t want to work anymore,” but that’s because she’s a malignant narcissist with nothing but contempt for the people who work for her and thinks you’ll believe lazy, reductive nonsense. All but two of the companies listed in the “Work with cool buds” section of the website churned long, long ago. These days, Animalz will work with almost literally anybody willing to pay them, and is desperately leveraging what little brand equity they have left to secure new business and keep the lights on. Due to the constant state of utter chaos, clients are routinely “onboarded” without a dedicated writer. We’re not talking about tiny pre-seed startups here––we’re talking industry-leading enterprise firms with market caps of billions of dollars whose work is literally farmed out to mediocre freelancers from day one. The agency’s reliance on freelancers has become so dire that some clients have churned before a full-time content manager has even been assigned to their account because it became embarrassingly obvious that their work was being outsourced. Because they don’t understand or value editorial expertise, leadership really does believe that simplistic checklists and questionnaires––the “process” that leadership loves to talk about on podcasts––can replace genuine subject-matter expertise and editorial experience. They’ve created a revolving door of failure in which both clients and employees burn out hard, then churn. It’s completely unsustainable, and Animalz’s formerly strong reputation has sunk lower and lower as editorial standards have fallen. To say Animalz pays poorly would be a considerable understatement. For years, Animalz’s internal “development guidelines”––benchmarks that determined employees’ level and compensation––did not account for previous experience at all. Think about that for a second. You could literally be a journalist with 20 years of experience at a national publication (and we’ve had more than a couple), and you could easily be determined to be a Level 1 content manager earning $50k because you lack SEO experience. Yes, really. The company recently revised its levels system because manageent finally accepted they couldn’t attract quality candidates by asking them to literally do the jobs of three people AND pay 30-40% under market rate. Now, incoming new hires can and do earn more than multi-year veterans with significantly more experience thanks to a half-baked, discriminatory “banding” system. This was presented as an “investment in the company,” but it’s nothing more than a transparent attempt to pay new hires more money because they’re desperate to attract new people to replace the exodus of experienced people who have quit. A handful of existing staffers got modest raises when this banding system was introduced, but only the “team players”––several of our most tenured, experienced people were deliberately excluded from these raises out of spite. When pressed during a meeting, the Head of People Ops also refused to rule out the possibility of salaries being reduced under the new salary bands. The “benefits” at Animalz are pitiful. When one former colleague joined the company in 2019, the insurance offered by Animalz did not even qualify as legally acceptable healthcare coverage in that person’s state. The founder’s brilliant solution? Asking other male founders on Twitter what he should do about it, which was ultimately nothing for another year. Another colleague was paying more than $15,000 per year on insurance coverage for their family, but was told the company couldn’t offer coverage for dependents because it would cost the company a paltry $60k per year to do so. Another was unable to seek care for a medical condition that was interfering with their work at all because no reputable specialists in their state accepted Animalz’s dismal coverage. During the interview process, they might try to tempt you with “unlimited personal days” and “unlimited sick days.” In practice, as other reviewers have noted, these policies may as well not exist. Staff are responsible for sourcing their own writing coverage during periods of PTO––not their managers, for reasons which have never been explained––which typically means working a 60-hour week on either side of a five-day break because everybody is so chronically overworked that coverage simply isn’t an option. You might get lucky with freelancer coverage, but most of them will be too busy onboarding new clients. The company itself is held together with gum and duct tape. Data security and governance is a nightmare––100+ employees share a handful of unsecured Google account passwords to access critical tools and systems––and the entire company is built on a rat’s nest of random documents, misplaced spreadsheets, and broken webforms. Airtable integrations fail daily, nobody knows who should be responsible for anything, and all of this overhead is placed on a handful of already overburdened People Ops folks who keep this ship of fools running virtually single-handedly. If toxic positivity is a trigger for you, I strongly advise you to seek employment elsewhere. You’ll be gaslit over and over again by people who love to talk about “ownership” and “personal responsibility” but refuse to be held to account for the disastrous impacts of their terrible decisions. Any and all criticism––no matter how valid––is silenced. There is quite literally no forum in which any negative feedback is acceptable. Genuine criticism is dismissed as “venting” and used against people as evidence of them being “problematic.” Team leads have routinely been instructed to suppress negative feedback among their teams (including actively dissuading people from discussing unionization), and if you have a problem with anyone in a position of power, you’re literally on your own. Leadership is keenly aware of this significant power differential and frequently leverages it to avoid being held accountable. Animalz has become an increasingly authoritarian workplace over the past 18 months. Any vestiges of transparency (including salaries, which were once openly visible to everybody) is being dismantled; the CEO described salary transparency as “more trouble than it’s worth.” Decision-making processes are opaque at best, and you’ll receive simplistic, dismissive answers if you dare ask how certain decisions were made. You may be tempted to dismiss the above as nothing more than the bitterness of a former employee. Admittedly, it’s very difficult to reconcile Animalz’s former reputation in the industry with the reality of the day-to-day at the agency today, but everything above is true. Leadership’s only priority now is “controlling the narrative,” and they will do and say anything to manage the optics surrounding their failures and the deteriorating conditions at the agency as a whole. Whoever you are––whether you’re an experienced industry vet or a fresh graduate hoping to cut your teeth in an agency environment––you can do so much better. Some of us gave management the benefit of the doubt over and over again, only for our hard work and goodwill to be thrown in our faces. Please don’t make the same mistakes we did. Find a company that will truly value your skills, experience, and wellbeing, because Animalz simply won’t.

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    31 people found this review helpful

    Animalz Response

    CEO

    It is challenging to respond to posts that contain incorrect information and insults. Abusive online behavior is not the purpose of this site, so responding at all feels like a sanctioning of inappropriate behavior and runs the risk of validating falsities. That said, we do read every single Glassdoor response and analyze alongside quarterly team engagement surveys, exit interviews, and ongoing feedback shared by the team to prioritize changes and improvements to the company. Here are some of the changes we made in 2021: * redefined roles and goals to reduce workload and allow for more time for focused work * restructured the org to improve team and customer communication and in turn, content quality * elevated key team members to help us architect the future of the company * made market adjustments to salaries across roles * implemented an ICP to ensure we’re taking on only best-fit customers Most drastically, we paused sales for a month and adjusted our revenue goal down significantly in order to focus on team and customer experience. We also tapped into our runway budget to give the team bonuses based on our previously higher revenue goal, so they were not impacted by changes in the budget. I genuinely care about this company, our team, and our customers. Improvements to the company will never be “complete” as we will continue to uncover (and create!) new challenges as we grow. I am endlessly grateful for our teammates who have surfaced opportunities and helped implement solutions. If anyone reading has questions or concerns, let’s talk about it! * Book a meeting: https://calendly.com/devin-emily/30min * Send me an email: devin@animalz.co

Other Employee Reviews

  1. 5.0
    Current Employee, more than 1 year

    A great fit for me, but not perfect for everyone

    Jul 7, 2022 - Content Marketing Manager 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    A few days into my career at Animalz, I knew it was a great fit. However, because of past toxic job experiences, I was wary that I was in a "honeymoon" phase that would eventually wear off. Over a year later, it still hasn't worn off! No company is perfect, but what makes Animalz stand out is that leadership genuinely cares about their people and is working to make things better. Sometimes that progress is slow, sometimes it creates growing pains, etc. But I've been in places where no progress is made at all...so dealing with growing pains feels far better. It's a sign that they're continually trying to make things better and are always willing to admit when they're wrong and need to change direction. Agency life in general can be hard. It requires a focus on production, which can be stressful. But over the years they've reduced the number of articles to a manageable amount after listening to their employees. They're also working on ways to reduce the emphasis on production numbers. That's not an easy task in an agency environment, but they're willing to take it on for our sake. As far as workload, the expectation is 8 articles a month (on the months you don't take PTO). If you come from agency life, you know how manageable this is compared to most agencies that require you to write an article a day sometimes. The feedback process is hefty, so in general, the articles do take longer from start to finish, but it's so nice to be able to focus on quality over quantity.

    Cons

    If you haven't been in a position where you're writing full-time (or if you have no agency experience), there might be a steep learning curve to ramp up to the production required. So if you're genuinely not interested in writing full time, this probably isn't the position for you. The company is also facing growing pains right now (largely due to restructuring how teams work). This is natural with any company, but if you're easily stressed out by change then maybe consider applying 6 months from now when things have stabilized.

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    8 people found this review helpful
  2. 1.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    A company run on cynicism

    Jan 9, 2023 - Content Manager in New York, NY
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    If you’re someone who’s terrific at context switching, and a very competent (and patient) writer, Animalz was once a pretty neat gig. The pay was and remains awful relative to US market rates, but the previously high-trust, low-oversight management approach meant it used to be easy for skilled people to do work and own their own calendars by-and-large. This made the place a mecca for people who worked to live, instead of those who live to work, and for people who had other projects/businesses/side-hustles to also give their attentions to. However, I am currently talking about a completely different company (the Animalz of the past) than the one I am about to talk about (the Animalz of the more-recent-past and present).

    Cons

    Animalz is an absolute textbook of mismanagement – in my time the company went from being in a position of imperious advantage through the COVID period to being in an absolute death spiral now. The company is awash in cynicism at every level. Shocking rates of pay compared to market averages. No-clue leadership team rinsing the company for massive salaries and reciting Monty Python bits during All-Hands despite catastrophic staff churn and client churn. Product announcements than come to nothing. Deafeningly insensitive attempts at DEI. If you’re a writer here you’ll pretty quickly start wondering why you’re doing a lot of customer success and strategy work, despite the fact that: there is almost certainly a CSM and a strategist on your team; they both get paid more than you; and, in the present climate, their jobs are more secure than yours. Idiotic org chart management has plagued Animalz for two years at least while prior management play-acted that the company – a standard-issue content farm – was actually a technology startup. CSMs, for instance, are redundant for a company that sells something so simple and that most clients, unfortunately, treat as a tiresome irrelevance anyway. No one in the ‘product’ division ever had a clue about product, and the Animalz array remained sadly undiversified despite the fact that the company would now be printing money if they’d invested in, say, video content during the pandemic. As with all mismanaged companies, incentives for Animalz employees are absolutely all over the place. Knowing that there’s not enough work to go around, the leadership team decided to impose production quotas. This was such a self-own that, despite the initiative ostensibly being put in place to increase output, it led to the company firing or downgrading a number of their best people just because they hadn’t been given enough work during a given month to meet quota or, as is incredibly frequently the case, because the work they’d done had been improperly billed. Animalz has no institutional memory and does not account for historical productivity; it arbitrarily assigned a uniform quota, and anyone who was below it after a couple months was sent to the slaughterhouse, irrespective of specific circumstances (including being on vacation, illness etc.). Again, these quotas are mandated despite: a) a lack of available work b) a lack of training for new CMs, several of whom I mentored and who had horrific experiences here c) imbalanced distribution of duties among the team, so that CM workloads frequently get overwhelming, while non-CMs bear no responsibility whatsoever for deliverables or performance d) the fact that you as a writer are not even going to be paid market rate for your experience or skills, while doing 2.5 jobs, at least This complete waking nightmare for writers is not made any easier by Animalz’s pointlessly over-elaborated editing schema. While individual editors here are good at what they do, the editing norms at Animalz appear to take it as given that all of the company’s writers can’t write, and that all of the readers of the company’s work aren’t bright enough to understand even the most familiar turns of figurative language. Not a good basis for getting the best possible work out of your writing stable. Training and institutional knowledge access are both non-existent. I’d be astonished if the company still exists for all intents and purposes in a year – best case scenario it will have morphed into an AI content farm (a Christmas which a great many of the more turkey-minded staff seem weirdly enthusiastic about). Plenty of other perfectly good writers will have been ground through the mill by then, whatever the outcome.

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    6 people found this review helpful

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